My father, the oceanographer

knew the language of whales 
yet tripped over the sound 
of his own name 
They say the cure for death 
is drowning and for a lisp 
a bucket of salt water 
In white gumboots he entered 
the stomach of a whale 
sat brooding under the great arched bones 
of a church 
invoking the mantra of LFA sonar 
whale fall 
and echolation 
stripped to his underwear, 
so great was the heat, and 
blubber he said 
now there was a word to make you weep 


Frankie McMillan is a short story writer and poet. Her first book, The Bag Lady’s Picnic and other Stories was published by Shoal Bay Press. Her poetry collection, Dressing for the Cannibals, was launched in 2009 as part of the  Christchurch Central Libraries’ 150th anniversary. That year she was also the winner of the New Zealand Poetry Society International Poetry Competition.